Just how good is Dina Asher-Smith? Meet the man who knows better than anyone else

Dina Asher-Smith made British sprinting history at the World Athletics Championships in Doha (PA Images)
10:38am, Thu 12 Dec 2019
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The person who knows, more than anyone, just how good Dina Asher-Smith is has spoken about coaching the golden girl of British athletics.

John Blackie describes her as 'capable and good' and says he doesn't get nervous before she races.

Asher-Smith has won a gold and two silvers at the Doha World Championships this year, been nominated for Sports Personality of the Year and won countless other awards. Blackie insists that, despite all this, her pre-race routine is very 'normal'.

Blackie said: “We talk about normal things like her make-up and her hair before a race.

“I don’t play with her head or get uptight about anything and with everything she does I give her as much space as she needs and I’m there if she needs me.

“Sometimes coaches say, ‘get a really good start’, but I say ‘get a normal start’ because that’s good enough.

“Why would I want to put more pressure on by emphasising a good start if it’s already good?”

The 24-year-old runner has been working with Blackie since she was eight at the Blackheath & Bromley Athletics Club. 

He said: “I was pretty laid back in Doha for the 200m and was much more nervous in Berlin last year.

“Because of Berlin, I was already happy this year that we were capable of achieving what was expected of us.”

He added: “If you’re not nervous you must be dead, it’s as simple as that. But I’m not too bad normally. I don’t get nagging doubts because I know how capable she is."

Due to her incredible year on the track, Asher-Smith has been propelled into stardom and her coach thinks she will cope well with the expectation heading into the Olympics next summer.

“Dina will cope fine with all the expectation. We get a lot of extraneous pressure, but once we’re at a competition we don’t allow ourselves to get side-tracked.

“We now lead into Tokyo after a very successful first two years of a three-year cycle in Berlin and Doha. 

“I expect she will race in both events next summer and we will treat them both equally. There’s a lot of hard work to be done in training and competitions before Tokyo, but at the moment we’re in a really good position.”